Re: ethical considerations

From: Will Wagers (
Date: Fri Oct 20 1995 - 12:23:18 EDT

I will defer to any copyright lawyers on the list.

However, there is no implied copyright on E-mail unless a notice appears,
anymore than material in a postal letter is presumed copyrighted. Were a
full article or complete work to be E-mailed, a case might be made in court
for an implied copyright. To enhance such a claim, attach, rather than
include, the material. If the author has an anticipation of copyrighting,
he/she should include the proper notice. Unlike a postal letter to a single
addressee, an e-mail to an unrestricted list will put the material in the
public domain. To copyright everything by putting a notice in your
signature, for example, merely devalues your legitimate copyright claims.

Software and fonts are easier to claim implied copyrights for, but such
claims are also easily circumvented for source materials, throwing it into
the courts.

Copyrighted material must, of course, itself be an original expression. It
is not designed to safeguard privacy or great ideas.

So, use a copyright notice, and clearly delineate copyrighted from public
domain material. As always, secrecy is the best protection for
pre-publication materials. Or, you can seek a non-disclosure agreement from
the parties to whom you wish to distribute.

Purely ethical considerations are a different matter and depend upon your
field. On a public list, standards will vary with the participants
backgrounds and, even home countries.

I have recently seen a threat on another mailing list of a lawsuit for
unauthorized use of copyrighted material. (It was delivered in anger and is
most likely frivolous.)

Regard, Will

This> wrote:
>> My thinking is: when a message is offered to the entire list, it becomes
>> property of each participant. Therefore, as long as one uses a message in
>> context and doesn't alter the meaning of a message (i.e., "rewriting" someone
>> else's post), participants should be free to print, concatenate, and share
>> material from B-Breek at their discretion.
>I'm not going to address the ethical considerations (except to note that
>messages to B-Greek are probably not in a polished form that is intended
>to be cited), there are copyright issues to consider as well. Generally,
>a person is not free to copy, modify, or publically distribute a copy-
>righted work without permission, except for fair use. That copyright
>exists from the moment the message is written. So I object to the notion
>that a message becomes the property of each participant; the author still
>retains the copyright.
>Stephen Carlson
>Stephen Carlson : Poetry speaks of aspirations, : ICL, Inc.
> : and songs chant the words. : 11490 Commerce Park Dr.
>(703) 648-3330 : Shujing 2:35 : Reston, VA 22091 USA

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